What's Wrong with Love?
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
I have recently seen quite a bit of public commentary on the role of sensual and romantic intimacy in ASMR. This is an issue that comes up periodically within the community. Some use it as an opportunity to assert that ASMRtists who choose to incorporate romantic intimacy into their work are somehow illegitimate and should be marginalized. That they are an active threat to the community and by their very existence, do irreparable harm to other artists. I would like to share a different view.
ASMRtists who choose to incorporate romantic intimacy into their work are creators on par with any other, and their work has the same value as others. While this style of art may not appeal to you personally, that does not make it illegitimate or the creator any less of an ASMRtist. Romantic roleplays can provide listeners with kindness, compassion, empathy, sweetness, and fun while helping them to relax. Many of the same benefits of the platonic intimacy found in other genres of ASMR, but with an added element of romantic love. That added element, that one extra spice in the recipe, can make all the difference for the listener. A listener who may be un-partnered for the first time in their life and hurting. A listener who’s never been partnered in their life and is in despair. A listener who is partnered but possibly not receiving everything they need. These are all human conditions that come with real and intense emotions that romantically focused ASMR can help to address. This genre of ASMR is legitimate and needed.
It is dangerous to make sweeping statements and generalizations about an entire genre of an art form. It is also extraordinarily unkind to ascribe nefarious financial motives to ASMRtists working in that genre. Just like other styles of ASMR, some artists are motivated to create for financial gain, which informs their content. This does not mean every artist within that genre has the same motivation. We are all individuals, creative human beings who are motivated by a myriad of personal experiences. My story as an artist will be different from yours, but I suspect there will be grains of similarity. Common points we can find to connect on and drive the larger art form of ASMR forward. In-fighting and disparaging remarks do not uplift or grow the community. It also does not advance your own creativity and art to belittle and ostracize other artists. Additionally, it is highly offensive to your own audience as many of them enjoy multiple genres of ASMR, including that which incorporates romantic intimacy. We share a lot of the same listeners.
ASMR is still a fledgling art form, much misunderstood by the general public and popular media. It is normal for them to latch onto the most salacious and most egregious examples of content within our community and use that to generalize about all of us. This hurts all of us equally, including those artists who use romantic intimacy in their content. It denigrates and belittles the human experience, it waters down our highly complex emotional lives into talking points. Most importantly, it perpetuates the damaging puritanical division of mind and body. The solution is not to bring that toxic view back into the community, but rather to push back with the truth. Everyone deserves a holistic existence, and ASMR is a safe place to explore all aspects of being human. A place to find kindness, compassion, empathy, comfort, and love in whatever context, platonic or romantic, that the listener needs it at that moment. We are not ashamed of being human, we are not ashamed of emotions, and we are not afraid of where that may take us. We acknowledge that sexuality is a normal and healthy aspect of the human experience, not something shameful or to be feared. We reject the idea that ASMR is a tiny room we all have to squeeze into or a narrow set of parameters we must adhere to. But instead, it is a broad art form as big as the sky where we can all find our unique niche. Similar to photography, cinema, dance, and painting, it is full of fantastic variety, and we celebrate that - it makes us all stronger. We all enrich people’s lives daily with our content, and society is better for it.
I would encourage everyone with negative feelings about romantically focused ASMR to look inward first. We live in a patriarchal society where women’s value is ascribed to their physical beauty, where men are pressured to ignore their emotions except for anger and lust. There is also a puritanical undertone to our culture, which encourages the separation of mind and body and tries to use sexuality to control people. This is done by shaming, dictating morays, and promoting the view that women’s value lies solely in their sexual purity. Begin to explore your own biases around sexuality. Why does romantic content make you uncomfortable? Why do you feel it reflects negatively on the community? Why do you believe it degrades you personally as an artist? Why do you think that sex and sexuality don’t have a place in an art form that seeks to explore and address the human condition? Bring everything out into the light and look at it with fresh eyes. Shake the foundation of your beliefs, many of which were absorbed in childhood, so they are not really yours. Form your own opinion, but make sure it is an educated one, which results from introspection and external exploration.
If at the end of all that, you still feel that romantic intimacy has no place in the broader art form of ASMR, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I will respectfully disagree and continue making the content I am driven as an artist to create. I will continue helping my listeners by showing them a special form of kindness, caring, compassion, empathy, sweetness, and fun that only romantic roleplays provide. I will continue advancing this art form and participating fully in the community that I love. We do not need each other’s permission or approval to create. However, I would prefer to work with you to build something amazing together then spend time tearing each other down or defending our positions. Those activities take us away from what should be our main focus and assist those external forces that seek to stereotype and constrain us.